Posts tagged with "relationships"

escape artist

“Suzanne is forty years old and has never had a close rela­tion­ship. She spends most of her spare time read­ing books and brows­ing the web. Suzanne is most com­fort­able with casual, friendly rela­tion­ships where noth­ing very per­sonal is discussed.

Suzanne is mar­ried to a man who is out of touch with his feel­ings. He’s more inter­ested in being mar­ried than in being mar­ried to Suzanne par­tic­u­larly. He has few friends, and does not expect close­ness from Suzanne. He wants a woman just so he can ful­fill the con­ven­tional role of hus­band. Their rela­tion­ship is based on tra­di­tional roles, not on real inti­macy. They rarely con­fide in each other.

Suzanne has smoked mar­i­juana her entire adult life. She insists that she is not addicted — she tells her­self she only does it for recre­ation, and that she has con­trol. Besides using drugs on a reg­u­lar basis, she tends to drink in set­tings when she doesn’t feel as socially capa­ble as others.

Suzanne became depressed, but was not in touch with her feel­ings of aban­don­ment and defec­tive­ness. She spent much of her life mak­ing sure she was not in touch, and try­ing to escape her feelings.

Continue read­ing “escape artist”…

backstory

It’s taken me a gen­er­ous dis­tance, as well as a healthy break from the pain, to real­ize I don’t under­stand what my mom thought of me. In my ear­li­est years, I believed she loved me, cause none of her demands were unrea­son­able. After all, chil­dren are often help­less and don’t even know what’s best for them­selves. Then I grew up, and devel­oped an iden­tity of my own. That meant I had dis­tinc­tive needs sep­a­rate from hers, and she would deny every one of them unless they were in line with what she wanted. It was impos­si­ble for me to believe there was any love at all when she was the cause of so much of my pain. I’ve since come to real­ize that rela­tion­ships are full of nuances, and that it’s pos­si­ble to love some­one whole­heart­edly and be ter­ri­ble for them at the same time.

Continue read­ing “backstory”…

quiet revolution

Depression has added an extra cost to every­thing I do. Something as sim­ple as buy­ing gro­ceries means mak­ing sure my energy lev­els are care­fully paced for a few days before I leave the house, and being too burned out to do any form of inter­ac­tion for a few days after. If some­thing goes wrong dur­ing the process — a night of poor sleep, a sick cat, a loss of moti­va­tion, a col­i­tis flare-up — and I run out of spoons, the prob­lems cas­cade and I end up hav­ing to can­cel my plans.

That’s why I choose to spend time with peo­ple who under­stand what it truly costs me to func­tion; they hap­pen to be the ones who are con­sis­tently reli­able, very under­stand­ing if I have to can­cel, and put as much effort into main­tain­ing the rela­tion­ship as I do.1

Heather portrait

 

Heather started taper­ing off her dose of ven­lafax­ine cause she feels sta­ble enough to take the risk2, and wants to start work­ing with­out the asso­ci­ated men­tal haze. Even though music is still a joy­less expe­ri­ence, the fact that she’s get­ting excited about Halloween again is a sign that she’s finally healing.

She doesn’t mind car­ry­ing more emo­tional labour (and I remain will­fully igno­rant, for the time being), cause she knows I’m play­ing life on hard mode. My job is to make sure she feels appre­ci­ated for doing more than her fair share. The crises we’ve been weath­er­ing together since we met means our hon­ey­moon phase was cut short, but nei­ther of us mind, cause inti­macy is what we were miss­ing for so long.3

self portrait at 35

 

The fact that it takes me fewer days be to com­fort­able around any­one when my inse­cu­ri­ties get the bet­ter of me means I’m gain­ing some small form of equa­nim­ity. I still have moments when I feel too dam­aged to be happy, too worth­less to be loved, or too bro­ken to be fixed, but it takes me less time to realign my per­cep­tions with real­ity. The lows aren’t as debil­i­tat­ingly deep either.

I’ve been using the momen­tum to take small steps out of my com­fort zone; spend­ing more time in dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions, learn­ing to be emo­tion­ally vul­ner­a­ble, explor­ing new ways of express­ing myself4, pro­cess­ing parts of the past I’ve tried my best to for­get. Even though I’m anx­ious to feel nor­mal again, I’m forced to rec­og­nize my lim­i­ta­tions and keep myself paced. I know I’m not where I want to be, but I’m mov­ing in the right direc­tion. That’s enough to keep me going for now.

  1. Also, per­haps not-coincidentally, usu­ally peo­ple who have deal with some form of depres­sion or chronic ill­ness in their lives. []
  2. I still have no idea whether mine are keep­ing me afloat, but the fact that I don’t suf­fer any side-effects means I’ll be on them for the fore­see­able future. []
  3. Finding my under­wear washed and folded one day — a respon­si­bil­ity I’ve never shared with any girl­friend — gave me the weird­est boner. []
  4. The only lux­ury pur­chase for me this year has been an Impact LX-49 MIDI con­troller. []

sweet surrender

All his life he had been active, doing things about the house, look­ing after patients, think­ing, study­ing, writ­ing. How good it was to stop doing, strug­gling, think­ing, to leave it all for a time to nature, to become her thing, her con­cern, the work of her mer­ci­ful, won­der­ful, beauty-lavishing hands.

—Doctor Zhivago

Time is giv­ing me the chance to feel hurt with­out hate. If only the process didn’t make the indi­vis­i­ble moments so over­whelm­ingly painful. The idea of being nor­mal seems like a mod­est goal, now that an act as sim­ple as wash­ing the dishes becomes a bur­den I can’t bear. It’s the rea­son I don’t trust myself behind the wheel of a car, the rea­son song and film do noth­ing to help me retreat.

As a result, our lives have been reduced to the sim­plest means of sur­vival. I play my games like a full-time job, slowly pro­cess­ing things I’ve kept in the back of my head as a means of stay­ing safe from myself. We eat, we sleep, we start over again. My respon­si­bil­ity is to myself now, and it’s a good day if I can get one pro­duc­tive thing done, from a sim­ple shower to a step out­side. And if even that proves too much, I’m learn­ing to be okay with that too, as time is mea­sured across expe­ri­ences and lives, not by the moments in which we stum­ble and fall.

Heather

 

When she sees me try­ing to shake the thoughts loose, look­ing for sup­port on cold tile, I’m told to take as much time as I need to get bet­ter, and reminded she won’t leave if I never do. I don’t have to hide my feel­ings or moods, cause she doesn’t judge me for the depth of my sad­ness, nor hold my anger against me. Every day she grows more ten­der than the last, even as I fall and break apart, and I’m learn­ing to under­stand how, when I have such a hard time accept­ing the shade of a per­son I am right now. It’s such bound­less affec­tion that finally makes me feel loved because of who I am, and not what I do or offer or represent.

After so many years liv­ing at arms-length with every­one around me, it’s a feel­ing that’s impos­si­ble for me to take for granted. I can’t help but inter­nal­ize every way her grace brings me joy. Every time she thanks me for let­ting her take care of my needs and wants.

And with this foun­da­tion, I learn how to be a per­son again, as I try to write my way out of this hole.

to start with an end

The break­ing point hap­pened one night, when an acquain­tance I’ll call Thomas chided me for not get­ting back to him sooner about a din­ner invi­ta­tion. Thomas was upset enough that he needed some time off from hang­ing out. I didn’t under­stand, as he never expressed his con­cern, so I had no idea there was a prob­lem in the first place. I apol­o­gized for hurt­ing him, and pleaded with him to let me know next time so it wouldn’t hap­pen again. Still, the sit­u­a­tion didn’t sit well with me; my belated reply was due to the fact that I was in a dif­fi­cult place of my own, about which he never asked or con­sid­ered. I was left con­fused, and sad that I’d unwit­tingly hurt some­one so much as to need a break.

So I called my best friend at the time, look­ing for sup­port. “Avail?” was my usual code-word by text, to let him know I could wait until he had taken care of every­thing else, as I never took his time for granted. But this time, I was shaken enough that I needed more than just an ear, and told him, instead of ask­ing. When I finally got him on the phone, he dis­missed every­thing I tried to say, over­rid­ing it with, “This is what you need to do. Mark three months from now on your cal­en­dar, and call him then. He’ll for­get by that time”. I tried to explain my feel­ings over and over, that I wasn’t look­ing to make amends but try­ing to under­stand the sit­u­a­tion, and this was the most mean­ing­ful answer he could offer. I broke down when I knew I wasn’t get­ting through, when I real­ized he wasn’t an ally at a time I truly needed it, and that he never was.

Continue read­ing “to start with an end”…